Info-tech

WWDC 2016: Tim Cook unveils Apple OS updates across devices

S Muralidhar San Franscisco | Updated on January 20, 2018

A group of young developers stand for a group photo on stage during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S.   -  Reuters

Tim Cook, CEO

Focus on performance and features; Siri gets more accessible

Still recovering from the shocking shoot-out at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, the previous day, the mood outside the Bill Graham Center in downtown San Francisco was sombre. Gay pride flags fluttered in the wind and the Stars and Stripes flew at half mast.

Inside the auditorium, where Apple was holding its annual developers’ conference, Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, started his keynote address with a minute’s silence in memory of the 50 people who had died in the massacre.

But the mood changed to one of hope and excitement after Tim kicked off this year’s announcements with some significant changes to watchOS.

The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an annual meeting of app developers in which Apple also makes some significant new announcements about its operating systems. This year’s was the 27th edition and more than 5,000 developers were attending it along with the media. Attendees came from 74 countries, and there were also 350 student scholarship winners. The youngest developer was just nine years old.

This year’s announcements by Apple focused on ramping up performance and features offered by all its operating systems — watchOS, macOS, iOS and tvOS. And with so much of the Apple ecosystem’s growth coming from the huge jump in the App Store ecosystem, it is only apt that the company announced a series of new features being opened up for the developer community.

So, Siri (Apple’s voice guided personal assistant) has been opened up for third party developers, as is the case with some of the other Apple embedded apps such as Maps, Phone and Messages.

New iOS 10

The most significant announcement was the new iOS 10, simply from the perspective of the number of devices that run the OS. All Apple mobile devices iPhone 5 and later will get iOS 10 as a free update later this year. The changes will allow users to send animated, personalised messages using the app and developers can now create new features such as stickers and video within Messages.

The other addition is the new Home app that is part of Home Kit for controlling all compatible home automation products from one place on the iPhone or iPad. Accessories such as air-conditioning, fans, lighting and window blinds can now be managed individually or can be grouped into scenes to work in tandem with a single command. They can all be controlled now by also using Siri. So, you can tell Siri to set up your favourite ‘scene’ even before you reach your residence.

Apple’s Maps and Photos features in iOS also get updates to make them more intuitive and capable of delivering new interactive options such as booking a cab and planning a restaurant stop without leaving the Maps app. Similarly, Photos gets a new Memories feature that intuitively scans your photos and videos and presents forgotten images in an automatically edited movie form.

The Apple Watch has become the world’s largest selling smart watch and has already had one OS update since its launch. The new watchOS 3 announced on Monday attempts to improve performance by storing app information locally in the device so that they launch instantly. There are new watch faces, added health and fitness functionality and handwriting recognition for sending instant messages. One key addition is the new SOS option programmed into the side button which automatically dials emergency services through the paired iPhone in case you are stuck in a critical situation. The activity app experience in the new watchOS 3 is also now optimised for wheelchair users.

macOS

One of the Apple’s most important and first OSes — macOS — also gets a major update and a name change. So, instead of the numeric OSX, it gets back to being called macOS and the latest version is called macOS Sierra.

The new update gives the desktop operating system more everyday usability with a deeper integration of Siri for quicker voice search and interactions with the desktop. There is also a cool, new Universal Clipboard feature that allows you to copy content from one Apple device and paste it in another. The other addition of note is the new Auto Unlock feature that allows you to log into your desktop simply by walking up to it while wearing an authenticated Apple Watch.

The writer is in San Francisco at the invitation of Apple

Published on June 14, 2016

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